Studying health outcomes in farmworker populations exposed to pesticides

Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Jun;114(6):953-60. doi: 10.1289/ehp.8526.


A major goal of studying farmworkers is to better understand how their work environment, including exposure to pesticides, affects their health. Although a number of health conditions have been associated with pesticide exposure, clear linkages have yet to be made between exposure and health effects except in cases of acute pesticide exposure. In this article, we review the most common health end points that have been studied and describe the epidemiologic challenges encountered in studying these health effects of pesticides among farmworkers, including the difficulties in accessing the population and challenges associated with obtaining health end point data. The assessment of neurobehavioral health effects serves as one of the most common and best examples of an approach used to study health outcomes in farmworkers and other populations exposed to pesticides. We review the current limitations in neurobehavioral assessment and strategies to improve these analytical methods. Emerging techniques to improve our assessment of health effects associated with pesticide exposure are reviewed. These techniques, which in most cases have not been applied to farmworker populations, hold promise in our ability to study and understand the relationship between pesticide exposure and a variety of health effects in this population. Key words: biomarkers, cancer, epidemiology, health outcomes, immigrants, neurobehavioral, neuropathy, pesticides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Pesticides / toxicity*


  • Pesticides